Picnics, barbecues and eating outdoors are just some of the perks of hot weather. However, these activities also increase the risk of food poisoning.

What is food poisoning and how do you get it?

In a nutshell, food poisoning is illness caused by eating contaminated food.. “Infectious organisms — including bacteria, viruses and parasites — or their toxins are the most common causes of food poisoning.” The contamination can happen anytime during production, they say, including during growing, harvesting, processing, storing, shipping or preparing. A common cause is cross-contamination, when harmful organisms transfer from one surface to another. That makes raw, ready-to-eat foods especially troublesome because those organisms aren’t destroyed during cooking.

Preventing food poisoning

  • It’s important to prepare meat or seafood carefully before cooking. You should also make sure they’re cooked properly and keep raw meat, fish and seafood away from other food being served.
  • Meat, leftover meals and summer staples like potato salad or coleslaw can all spoil if they’re left out for too long.
  • Make sure you refrigerate foods that go bad quickly, like cooked meats and potato or pasta salads, within 90 minutes. You should also eat or throw away any refrigerated leftovers within 2 days.
  • Wash fresh vegetables and lettuce. If you’re not sure whether water will be available to wash on site, rinse produce before packing for the picnic.
  • Wash your hands before handling any food AND after touching raw meat, poultry, or seafood. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Throw away or thoroughly cook marinades and sauces that have touched raw meat or seafood.
  • Put cooked meat on a clean plate.
  • Keep raw meats, poultry, and seafood away from cooked and ready-to-eat food and drinks.
  • Don’t use the same utensils on raw foods and cooked and ready-to-eat foods.
  • If you’re smoking meat, keep the temperature inside the smoker at 225°F to 300°F.


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